Head of Horticulture Directorate Benjamin Tito said the ban on Fuerte and Hass varieties will apply starting today. Growers will still be able to export the less popular Jumbo variety.
“We have stopped export of avocado starting today to allow the current crop that is in the farm to mature and protect our overseas market,” Tito said. The ban follows rampant cases of traders picking young crops, encouraged by high prices of the commodity at the international market.
Exports of avocados from Kenya hit about 68,000 tons between January and October. The exports generated 14 billion shillings (about 128 million U.S. dollars) for the country, the industry said on Wednesday.
According to Hosea Machuki, CEO of Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), Kenya shipped some 59,000 tons last year, making it the leading fruit export.
“In 2020, up to the end of October, we have exported 68,000 tons. The key driver of increasing exports of avocado is the expansion of area under cultivation with farmers outside traditional growing zones embracing the fruit,” Machuki told africa.cgtn.com, adding, that avocado is a key foreign exchange earner as it accounts for about one-fifth of the total horticultural exports. He noted that the east African nation has a huge potential for avocado production from both small and large scale farmers.
Machuki said that 70 percent of the fruit is grown by smallholder farmers who have between 5-20 trees per homestead, 20 percent by medium-scale farmers and the rest is cultivated in commercial plantations.
“Our avocados are grown naturally in the most ideal conditions in the world right on the equator. Thus they require very little crop protection, making them mostly organically grown and produced,” Machuki said.